Is Buying an Electric Lawn Mower in 2023 Worth It? Here Are the Pros and Cons
Compared to gas-powered lawn mowers, electric models are cleaner, quieter and greener.- but there are some drawbacks.
Macy Meyer is a N.C. native who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2021 with a B.A. in English and Journalism. She currently resides in Charlotte, N.C., where she has been working as an Editor I, covering a variety of topics across CNET’s Home and Wellness teams, including home security, fitness and nutrition, Smart home tech and more. Prior to her time at CNET, Macy was featured in The News Observer, The Charlotte Observer, INDY Week, and other state and national publications. In each article, Macy helps readers get the most out of their home and wellness. When Macy isn’t writing, she’s volunteering, exploring the town or watching sports.
- Macy has been working for CNET for coming on 2 years. Prior to CNET, Macy received a North Carolina College Media Association award in sports writing.
For decades, lawn mowers were gas-guzzling and emissions-spouting beasts that were hard to pull-start and loud enough to wake up the neighborhood. But a new generation of electric-powered models is changing the lawn care game.
Though gas-powered models still dominate the aisles of big-box stores, a growing number of affordable electric mowers now provide a compelling alternative, whether your priority is power, convenience or sustainability. If you’re in the market, you have more options than ever.- and the best electric mowers are now good enough to rival their gas-powered competitors. We’ll break down the pros and cons of electric and gas mowers to help guide your buying decision.
Pro: Electric lawn mowers are quieter
Lawn mowers are loud. While standard gas-powered mowers usually operate at 95 decibels.- equivalent to the racket made by a motorcycle revving its engine.- electric mowers max out at around 75 decibels on average, closer to the din of a washing machine. If you live in a neighborhood, an electric mower is the less disruptive option.
Con: Shorter run times
Once you start mowing, you want the job done in one fell swoop.- but that might not be possible with an electric lawn mower, especially if you have a significant plot of land. Electric models top out at between 45 to 60 minutes per charge, which should be enough to handle up to half an acre of grass.
Some electric mowers, like this corded Sun Joe hover model will provide unlimited mowing time, as long as you have a power source or long enough extension cord. Most electric models run on batteries, however, and offer run times ranging from 20 to 45 minutes. If it takes you longer to mow your yard, that’s going to be a problem.- or a delay, at least, while you recharge. You can keep a second battery on hand, but that’ll require an additional purchase.
Pro: Easier to maneuver and less maintenance
A gas-powered mower requires periodic maintenance, including the eventual replacement of a spark plug, oil filter and air filter. Electric mower components, however, require less regular servicing, which should increase your savings over the long term. In this way, an electric model can be more economical than a gas-powered counterpart.
Most electric mowers are also relatively lightweight, making them easier to navigate across your lawn and maneuver around tight corners. Our top electric pick, the EGO Power Plus, weighs 62.6 pounds.- making it considerably lighter than the Craftsman M250, which weighs in at a hefty 90 pounds. Though the self-propelled engine improves maneuverability when you’re cutting the grass, the mower is still heavy to push.
Pro: Better for the environment
Gasoline-powered engines produce a surprising amount of carbon emissions and a slew of pollutants. According to the California Air Resources Board, one hour of mowing generates the same pollution as driving a car for 300 miles. And the Environmental Protection Agency says that gas lawn mowers contribute the majority of non-road-related air pollution generated nationwide.
Electric lawn mowers are a much cleaner, energy-efficient alternative. The Electric Power Research Institute notes that if we replaced half the gas-powered lawn mowers with electric models, it would reduce the same amount of emissions as removing 2 million vehicles from the road. This is certainly an important factor to consider when purchasing a new mower.
Con: Electric lawn mowers aren’t as powerful
Lawn mower power is measured by a torque rating, which quantifies the driving force behind the blade’s rotation. The higher the torque rating, the more powerful the chopping motion.- and the less likely the mower is to get stuck or caught up on a clump of grass or other obstruction.
The average electric lawn mower has between 2 and 2.5 pound-feet of torque. The average of a gas-powered mower is between 4.5 and 8.75 pound-feet, which is about three times more power. This means a gas-powered mower will make it easier to tackle challenging terrain like hills and dips and slants in your yard. And homeowners with larger lawns or yards with hills or slopes may require heavier duty equipment like a riding lawn mower. While most riding lawn mowers are gas-powered, there are electric ones on the market, like this Ryobi model.
Pro: They can be less expensive
If you’re in the market for a new mower, a basic electric mower is less expensive than a basic gas mower.
Electric models can start as low as about 100, the price for the Sun Joe hover model tested by CNET experts, but that’s a particularly low-priced outlier. Most push-from-behind electric models can cost anywhere from 250 to 550.
for gas-powered mowers can start at around 200-250. But the most popular lawn mower brands have basic gas-powered models that fall into the 400 to 1,00 price range. Certain gas riding lawn mowers can even reach up to 2,500.
Overall, the lawn mower market continues to expand, with an array of diverse offerings. For homeowners with larger yards, gas-powered mowers may still be the best fit, since they have the durability and power to tackle bigger lawns with ease. That’s if you’re comfortable with the environmental impact gas mowers have.
If you want to maintain a midsize yard, reduce your carbon footprint (and even save some money) in the process, then an electric lawn mower is probably the best for your needs. Either route you take can help you gain a healthy-looking lawn that boosts the curb appeal and value of your home.
I’ve Been Mowing Lawns 30 Years, and the Ego Mower Is My All-Time Favorite
The 56-volt Ego Power Select Cut Mower LM2135SP is the best lawn mower I’ve ever used, and I’ve been mowing lawns my whole life.
I earned my first 20 shoving a rusted Craftsman up the hills of north Georgia when I was barely big enough to yank the cord to get the engine started.
I raced Toro TimeCutters across the parking lots of megachurches while working on a pro mowing crew.
Now I whip the Ego mower up and down a Los Angeles hillside so steep, it’s hardly safe to mow. And after mowing grass with every mainstream mulching machine of the past three decades, I’m sure that only the Ego mower could pull this one off.
But forget my personal mowing memoirs. This is about your mowing needs, and I’m telling you that this mower is satisfying even if the smell of a gas mower’s four-stroke is like noxious nostalgia in your nose.
Electric Lawn Mower vs Gas Lawn Mower Review
The Ego mower is quiet. Maintenance is simple—there is no maintenance. No emissions. No noise. Your scowling neighbors will smile. Everything is better with the Ego mower.
Top 3 Electric Lawn Mowers in 2023
The best lawn mower
This self-propelled machine easily mows down overgrown grass—and it spares you the noise, emissions, and maintenance of a typical gas mower. Its battery runs for about an hour.
At the time of publishing, the price was 699.
Review: EGO Power battery-powered lawn mower takes much of the pain out of mowing the lawn
I like the idea of doing lawn work. Through all of the sweat and heat, there’s a deep sense of satisfaction once the job is completed. I think I enjoy it primarily because it’s the antithesis of my daily routine as a tech blogger.
Sadly, there are some things that make it hard to enjoy the traditional lawn care routine. The putrid smell of gasoline, the allergies, dealing with mowers that won’t start, the deafening noise, the numbing vibrations of the handle, running out of gas, etc.
The very idea of an alternative-powered lawn mower always appealed to me, but their shortcomings were too much for me to seriously consider one…until now.
Things I hate about gas-powered mowers
- Gasoline fumes smell awful
- Refilling the gas tank
- Starting can be difficult
- The noise is deafening
- They can be very heavy
- The exhaust pollution makes me sick
- They can take up a lot of space
Things that made me dismiss electric mowers up until now
- Not enough power
- Not large enough to make efficient passes
- Cords, if corded, can be dangerous and annoying
- Batteries ran out too quickly
- Charging took too long
- Terrible designs
The EGO Power mower not only eliminates the issues presented by gas-powered mowers, but solves many of the conundrums raised by electric mowers as well.
Not only does this 56V mower pack the power, but it features the battery longevity, the quick charging, and a deck size large enough to compete with gas powered dinosaurs of old. The EGO Power even features a design that isn’t downright offensive, which is a trend that seems to be catching on. Dare I say that this mower makes caring for my lawn fun?
If there is one potential downside to be had with the EGO Power, it would have to be its price. Although the mower is available in a bare tool configuration that omits the battery and charger, once you acquire all of the necessary parts it, adds up to a substantial price.
Thankfully, there are several pricing options and deck configurations to lend as much variety to customers as possible. I purchased my EGO Power from a brick and mortar Home Depot store, as I wanted to view it in person before pulling the trigger on such a product. After testing it out, I’d be confident buying any of EGO’s products from Home Depot’s online store, or even from Amazon.
I purchased the 21″ model from HomeDepot, but if you’re okay with downsizing an inch and losing a few amenities, you can get the 20″ model in several configurations directly fulfilled by Amazon with free shipping. All mowers come with a 5-year limited factory warranty for the mower, and a 3-year factory warranty for the battery charger.
If you have a small to medium-sized yard, then the 20″ mower will most likely work for you. That said, I wanted to get the largest mower that I could get, so I opted for the extra inch. Along with the extra blade width, you get a wider range of cutting heights that can be adjusted. The 21″ EGO Power mower features six cutting heights ranging from 1.5″ to 4.0″, while the smaller version features five heights ranging from 1.2″ to 3.5″. Depending on your needs, this is something to consider.
Cutting height comparison
|1||1.2″ (30mm)||1.5″ (41mm)|
|2||1.8″ (45mm)||2.0″ (51mm)|
|3||2.4″ (60mm)||2.5″ (65mm)|
|4||3.0″ (75mm)||3.0″ (77mm)|
|5||3.5″ (90mm)||3.5″ (93mm)|
Along with the width of the blade and the cutting height positions, there are a few other amenities that you’ll only find on the larger mower. The larger mower features three adjustable handlebar positions versus two on the smaller mower. Along with the size difference, there are also self-propelled options to consider, which can add an extra 100 to the price.
Unboxing and Initial setup
The unboxing was surprisingly pleasant for an outdoor appliance, and it was evident that at least some amount of care went into the product’s presentation. The mower arrives completely assembled, which is awesome for someone who wants to get down to business as quickly as possible.
The box that the EGO Power ships in is fairly sizable, but it’s not so large or heavy that it’s unwieldy. If you’re buying the mower from a brick and mortar store, or moving it from the front porch after it’s shipped to your house, it would definitely help to use a small dolly to cart it around.
Included in the package is a 56V 5Ah battery and corresponding quick charger. The first thing that you’ll need to do upon unboxing is begin charging the battery, and EGO’s design makes this as painless and as idiot-proof as possible.
Charging the battery involves removing it from its box, plugging in the quick charger, and placing the battery on the charger so that it lines up with the contacts. After a series of calibration noises, you’ll hear a fan turn on as the unit starts to charge. The fan is moderately loud, but that’s the price you have to pay for being able to charge a 5Ah battery in less than an hour.
Once I took care of the battery charging, it was just a matter of preparing the mower for first use. Initial setup was super easy, because there’s basically nothing to set up. The mower arrives in its storage position, which means that the handle is compressed and folded flat to take up a smaller footprint.
The quick-adjust lever located on the side of the mower’s handle allows you to reposition the handle from its folded position into the upright position. Once the handle is upright, you can then use the handle-locking clamps to extend the position of the handles into operating position.
The mower ships with an optional grass catcher bag that can be affixed to the rear in order to catch leaves and grass clippings. As someone with a grass allergy, sneezing and itchy eyes are inevitable, but I find that the grass catcher bag helps keep my allergies somewhat in check.
Starting the mower
Once the handle is in its upright position and fully extended, simply lift the battery lid and push the charged battery into the battery slot until it clicks into place. From there, it’s just a matter of holding the safety button near the top of the handle while pulling the bail switch upward. The mower will immediately start, but the process will be much faster and quieter than you may be used to if coming from a gas-powered rig.
The wonderful thing about battery-powered motors is that there’s no string pulling in order to start the mower. You literally just press the safety button followed by a pull of the bail switch, and the mower starts — instantly. It’s such a satisfying feeling to know that you can start and stop the mower on a whim.
Mowing the lawn
I didn’t opt for the self-propelled version of the EGO Power, and although it would be nice, I wasn’t sure if the 100 premium was worth it given my small, flat lawn. The majority of this mower is made out of high-grade plastic, and while plastic isn’t usually a material that’s deemed to be desirable, I find that it makes the Power. at a nimble-feeling 62lbs (with battery pack), light and easy to maneuver.
Obviously, the most important thing about a mower is how well it performs cutting grass, and after testing it several times, I can say that it performs admirably. Grass was cut on the first pass, and there’s enough power available to easily cut through taller, thicker grass as well.
Although it’s not exactly recommended, I was even able to cut through lightly damp grass with no issues. Cutting my lawn with this mower felt like I activated some sort of lawn care cheat code, lending me an unfair advantage against my itchy allergy-causing nemesis.
Many of the cordless mowers that you’ll see out there feature smaller decks, which require more passes to cut an entire yard. The 21″ deck on the EGO Power feels like a traditional gasoline-powered mower, in that its deck is large enough to cut a yard with fewer passes. I imagine that the 20″ model wouldn’t be all that different from the 21″ model in this regard, so it may be worth the money and weight saved to go smaller.
One of the most impressive things about this mower is its battery life. With the 5Ah battery that it’s bundled with, it features a run-time (45 minutes) that’s longer than it’s total charge time (40 minutes). That’s mighty impressive. For those of you who opt for the slightly smaller 20″ model with the 4Ah battery, you’ll enjoy the same run-time but even less charge time (30 minutes).
Having such charging and battery performance really takes one of the major pain points out of green lawn care. It’s battery-powered, so you don’t have to finagle with cords, and it features a battery that can fully charge and be ready in well short of an hour. importantly, a single charge adds enough run time to be able to completely mow most small to medium yards.
There are a lot of little details that make me admire this mower the more that I use it. One such detail, the LED headlights, makes it easier to cut the lawn in the later hours of the evening. Another detail, the battery gauge on the lithium-ion battery, makes it possible to tell how much juice is left on the mower’s battery. Although I enjoy both of these features, as you’ll see below, each could stand to improve on EGO Power’s later model revisions.
All of the products in EGO Power’s lineup — mower, blowers, trimmers, etc. — work with the same battery packs. That means that I can use the same battery pack from my mower to power my blower. I can even upgrade to a 7.5Ah battery to extend the mower’s 45-minute run time, although that’s probably overkill for my yard size.
I especially love how the mower is capable of folding up for storage. If you’re short on space, this is a huge space-saving feature. Once folded, the mower can stand upright or even be hung on a wall.
Improvements that can be made
The EGO Power isn’t perfect, but I much prefer it to gasoline powered mowers that I’ve used in the past. That said, there are a few areas where improvements could be made.
The battery features a power indicator button that gives users an idea as to how much battery power is left. Unfortunately it only starts to tell you when the battery is low when it’s at 15% battery remaining or below. That seems a little drastic. I wish the battery included a more incremental way to monitor its remaining life.
I also don’t like that I have to stoop down and press a button on the mower’s deck to engage the LED light. I love having a light available, but I often forgot that the light was even there.
I’m far from a lawn care connoisseur, but having a green mower makes me excited about lawn care much in the same way that those who weren’t previously car enthusiasts are excited about driving since Tesla has emerged.
Many gasoline powered mowers make mowing a chore, and many battery-powered mowers make it needlessly tedious. The EGO Power mower throws out many of the negatives about both technologies, and can make mowing enjoyable. It’s not perfect, but it’s as close as I’ve gotten to a gasoline powered mower without any of the negative side effects.
Yes, it’s quite pricey starting at 449 for the 20″ model with 4Ah battery, but the more adoption this technology receives, the faster the will drop. I certainly don’t regret paying a premium if it means not having to deal with gasoline fumes, pulling strings, and all of the other negatives associated with mowing with a traditional mower.
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The 6 Best Self-Propelled Lawn Mowers of 2023, Tested and Reviewed
Michelle Ullman is a home decor expert and product reviewer for home and garden products. She has been writing about home decor for over 10 years for publications like BobVila.com and Better Homes Gardens, among others.
Barbara Gillette is a Master Gardener, herbalist, beekeeper, and journalist. She has 30 years of experience propagating and growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and ornamentals.
Emily Estep is a plant biologist and journalist who has worked for a variety of online news and media outlets, writing about and editing topics including environmental science and houseplants.
If you dream of a lush, green lawn, but dread the maintenance involved in keeping it that way, then a self-propelled lawn mower can make your life easier. These mowers not only power the blades but also power the wheels to make your pushing requirements little more than guiding the machine across the grass.
Brock Ingham, gardener, landscaper, and founder of the website Bigger Garden, says, The main advantage of a self-propelled mower is that it requires less effort to operate than a push mower. This can be beneficial for people with large lawns or those who have difficulty pushing a mower due to physical limitations. Self-propelled mowers can also provide a more consistent cut, since the speed is controlled by the mower rather than the operator. Overall, a self-propelled lawn mower can make mowing easier and more efficient.
Henry Bravo, founder and editor-in-chief of SmartGardenHome.com, adds, Self-propelled lawnmowers are much easier to maneuver around obstacles, and they can handle uneven terrain without a problem. Plus, I can adjust the speed so I can mow quickly or at a slower, more leisurely pace. And I love that I can easily switch between mulching, side discharge, and bagging capabilities.
We bought and tested several self-propelled mowers, both gas and electric, and evaluated many others based on their power, the size of lawn they can handle, their options for handling grass clippings, their range of cutting heights, the easiness of using the mower, and their overall value.
EGO Power Select Cut 56-Volt 21-Inch Self-Propelled Cordless Lawn Mower
- Variable-speed self-propel
- Generous battery runtime
- Fast recharging
- Folds for compact storage
Earning the top spot in our tests is a battery lawn mower that rivals the power of a gas mower but without the smelly fumes, the oil changes, or the frustrating pull cord. Instead, this self-propelled mower from EGO has a 56-volt, 7.5-Ah battery that provides up to 60 minutes of runtime on a single charge; that’s enough to mow most lawns up to a 0.5 acre and more than enough for our small yard. We put the mower to the test in early spring, mowing a lawn just out of winter dormancy that was patchy, wet, and ferny.
Other than attaching the bag, assembling the mower was easy. And a mere press of the button brought it roaring to life. This mower has a 21-inch cutting deck and a one-hand lever that adjusts the cutting heights through six different settings for grass heights of 1.5 to 4 inches. We found it very easy to adjust.
The lawn mower easily handles all common types of lawn grass, including tougher warm-season varieties like Bermudagrass, zoysia, and St. Augustine. A few buyers have complained that it struggles to lift overly tall grass high enough for an even cut. However, we found that it struggled a bit in the wet grass as well, becoming stuck at one point in a ferny patch. Aside from that, it delivers a precise and crisp cut that is sure to impress.
The speed of the mower is variable, so you can set it to match your stride from a leisurely 0.9 mph up to a brisk 3.1 mph. As this was our first time using a self-propelled mower, there was a bit of a learning curve. At first, it felt like the mower was pulling us along. However, we soon got the hang of it and appreciated the ease of adjusting the mower’s speed. We also liked the adjustable handle, which made it more comfortable to mow.
We found that the mower was easy to maneuver, even around obstacles or sharp turns. As the self-propelled function does most of the heavy work, this is also a great mower for yards with slopes. At nine inches in diameter, the mower’s wheels are fairly large, and it is rear-wheel drive, which also helps when mowing over rough terrain or hilly areas. You can dispose of the grass clippings in the included 2-bushel bag, discharge them to the side, or mulch them into fine clippings to quickly decompose them into healthful lawn nutrients. This mower even has a LED headlight, so you can mow early in the morning or at dusk to take advantage of mild temperatures.
Most of the mower’s construction is heavy-duty plastic for weather and rust resistance, but that might not be as durable as steel, although we felt it seemed quite sturdy. Once you finish mowing, the handle folds all the way down for easy storage. We really appreciated this feature, as the mower doesn’t take up as much room in the garage. This mower comes with a 56-volt battery and a fast charger that has the battery ready to go in just an hour.
How It Performed Long-Term
We are extremely satisfied with the performance of the lawn mower, particularly with how long the battery lasts. It can easily handle mowing the lawn three times without requiring a recharge. Even when it does need to be recharged, it only takes around 20 minutes. The mower is also highly effective when dealing with thick, tall grass and can even tackle 10 days of uncut grass without issue. Additionally, it can handle damp grass and leaves with ease. Initially, it took some time to become familiar with turning it on and utilizing the self-propel feature, but once we did, mowing the lawn became a breeze.
Price at time of publish: 549
Cutting Width: 21 inches | Power Source: Battery | Weight: 62.6 pounds | Grass Discard Options: Bag, mulch, side-discharge